How to Get to Mt. Aso from Fukuoka

If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know about my latest Kyushu trip and how I spent less than ¥‎30,000.

On that 6-day trip, I was able to visit Mt. Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture.

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Mt. Aso (阿蘇山, Asosan)

Mount Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan located in Aso Kujū National Park in Kumamoto Prefecture. Asosan’s ancient caldera ranks among the world’s largest. It’s diameter measures up to 25 kilometers and its circumference up to over 100 kilometers. In the center of the caldera stands Mt. Aso’s active volcanic peaks, which include Mt. Nakadake. Its recent eruption was recorded in 2016 but has since calmed down not until our last visit. Its crater is usually accessible to tourists but we were in no luck.

The plan was to see Mt. Aso’s crater and spend the afternoon in Kumamoto but this changed when we arrived at Kumamoto Station. We were supposed to ride the train headed to Aso Station but the line was broken and the only way we can get there is by bus. We had to think quick. We still decided to push through with our plan and rode the bus going to Aso Station.

After arriving at the station, that’s when we knew we will not be seeing Asosan’s crater up close. They raised the eruption level to 2 so tourists weren’t allowed to go near.

But we had another option, to see it from Kusasenri Observatory. And since we were already there, we rode the bus to Kusasenri and it didn’t disappoint. Yes, we were not able to see the crater up close but the view going to Kusasenri and seeing Mt. Aso from afar was already enough, at least for the time being.

I know you’re wondering how we got there. So here it goes…

How to Get There

This guide is for those who plan to visit Mt. Aso coming from Fukuoka.

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By Train via Kumamoto

#1 Hakata -> Kumamoto

Take the train from Hakata Station to Kumamoto Station. If you availed of the JR Pass, All Kyushu Pass or North Kyushu Pass, you can easily hop on a shinkansen to take you Kumamoto. It will take approximately 23 minutes to get to Kumamoto Station if you can ride the express shinkansen, if not you’ll get there in 38 minutes.

#2 Kumamoto -> JR Aso Station

From Kumamoto, take the local train (Hohi Line) to Higo-Ozu Station. They used to have a line directly connecting to JR Aso Station but the line has been broken and I’m not sure why or for how long.

After arriving in Higo-Ozu, you can take the bus going to JR Aso Station. It will take you an hour or more to get to JR Aso Station. Bus fare from Higo-Ozu to JR Aso Station (vis-a-vis) is JPY1020 per way.

#3 JR Aso Station -> Mt. Aso (Aso Nishi Station)

From Aso Station, the most famous Nakadake Crater can be reached by bus in about 30 to 40 minutes. A few bus services run between the station and the caldera every day but they are not super regular. It will be best to plan your trip ahead to avoid long hours of waiting.

Here’s the bus time table:

Aso Station -> Aso Nishi Station

Morning 1 2 3 4
Aso Sta.mae 9:40 10:35 11:45 12:45
Asosan Nishi-Sta. 10:15 11:10 12:20 13:20
Afternoon 5 6 7
Aso Sta.mae 13:20 14:45 15:30
Asosan Nishi-Sta. 13:55 15:20 16:05
Fare: JPY650 (Weekday/Saturday/Sunday/Holiday)

Aso Nishi Station -> Aso Station

Morning 1 2 3
Asosan Nishi-Sta. 10:35 11:15 12:30
Aso Sta.mae 11:08 11:48 13:03
Afternoon 4 5 6 7
Asosan Nishi-Sta. 14:05 14:20 15:45 16:25
Aso Sta.mae 14:38 14:53 16:18 16:58
Fare: JPY650 (Weekday/Saturday/Sunday/Holiday)

For more details: Check here.

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By Train via Oita

#1 Hakata -> Oita

Take the train from Hakata Station to Kokura Station. From Kokura, take the train going to Oita Station. Travel time takes you approximately 2 hours and 58 minutes.

#2 Oita -> JR Aso Station

From Oita, you can take the Hohi Line local train towards Aso Station. It will take you approximately 2 hours and 28 minutes to arrive at Aso Station. 

#3 JR Aso Station -> Mt. Aso (Aso Nishi Station)

From Aso Station, the most famous Nakadake Crater can be reached by bus in approximately 35 minutes.

See the bus timetable above.

This option may not be the best route as this will take many hours before you get to arrive in Aso. BUT in instances where you plan to stay longer in Aso or in Beppu or Oita, you might want to consider this option.

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By Bus 

Fukuoka Airport -> Aso Station

Most people would suggest this option as it is the quickest way to reach Aso Station. You can easily hop on a Fukuoka-Airport Limousine Bus or Airport Shuttle Bus going to Aso. Alight at Uchinomaki Onsen which is 69 meters away from JR Aso Station.

#3 JR Aso Station -> Mt. Aso (Aso Nishi Station)

From Aso Station, the most famous Nakadake Crater can be reached by bus in approximately 35 minutes.

See the bus timetable above.

The bus rides going to Aso or to the crater are not covered by the JR Pass.


By Car

Cars can drive all the way to a parking lot just next to the crater but they must pay JPY800 for the toll fees.

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Things to Remember

Mt. Aso
For your reference.
  • Before visiting Mt. Aso, make sure to check the volcano’s current state. When the volcanic activity heightens, the crater can be off-limits to everyone, the ropeway will be non-operating, and the road and walking trail to the crater will be closed.
  • You can buy your food at the mini-market just right across Aso Station. There are also restaurants in Kusasenri Observatory.
  • There are other activities you can do in Kusasenri. You can do horseback riding, cycling, and even paragliding.
  • Planning your day will save you lots of time!

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I hope this will help you plan your visit to Mt. Aso. Let me know if you’ve successfully seen the crater! I will come back to see you again, Asosan.

Feel free to leave comments or message me via e-mail if you have any questions. If you like this article and want to see or know more about my Japan trips, or other explorations, trips, and tips, follow me on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

 

xo,

dee signature text

 

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